Chevrolet Aerovette Concept photo
Image credits: © Chevrolet. GM Corp

1973 Chevrolet Aerovette Concept

Back in the 70's, it became apparent to General Motors that their Corvette Stingray would have to be replaced after almost twenty years in production on the same chassis. GM is aware that Corvette drivers are a very demanding group, and did not want any next-generation designs that would alienate their existing customers. Chevrolet built a variety of concept cars to test owner reactions, showcasing advanced technology ideas.

One of these concept cars was the Aerovette. It began life as the XP-882, a mid-engined prototype using a 400 CID V8 mated to an Oldsmobile Toronado transaxle. For the 1973 Paris motor show, an XP-882 chassis was repowered with an experimental four rotor Wankel engine, which looked very promising until it was canceled due to concerns about the rotary engine's typically poor fuel economy with an impending oil crisis just on the horizon. The Bill Mitchell, the ardent Corvette styling department magnate, gave the car a new life by reinstalling a small-block Chevrolet V8 and christening it the Areovette. A stunningly dramatic looking car, it was promoted as the new sixth generation Corvette for 1980, but never saw series production.

Charles Jordan oversaw the Aerovette design, which included radical bifold gullwing doors, and deformable plastic body-colored nose and tail sections which are common today, but revolutionary in the mid-1970's. The sterling silver paint, with silver leather interior and forged alloy turbine wheels later seen on the 1978 Corvette Indy Pace Car, gave the Aerovette a space craft like appearance unmatched by any other advanced sports car.

Source - General Motors
An experimental, mid-engine fast-back coupe, the Chevrolet Aerovette, features a 400-cubic inch displacement V-8 engine mounted transversely, an extremely efficient aerodynamic form and computer age cockpit instrumentation.

Finished in gunmetal silver with grey interior, the Aerovette was developed and built by the General Motors Design Staff in co-operation with Chevrolet design and engineering personnel to test high performance, vehicle design and engineering concepts and is not planned for production.

The Aerovette has a steel and aluminum body of birdcage construction with glass fiber skin. Hi-fold gullwing doors with fixed side windows that act as part of the structure are used to reduce body weight.

The deep "V" windshield is angled at 72 degrees and wraps around to the doors concealing the front pillars. The Aerovette was designed with the aid of wind tunnel testing for low drag without excessive aerodynamic lift while maintaining United States bumper height standards.

Engine power is transmitted through a model 425 Hydramatic automatic three-speed transmission. A high stall speed torque converter ensures good low-end performance.

A fully independent suspension incorporates wishbone type "A" arms in front and longitudinal strut rods in the rear. Telescoping coaxial coil springs and shock absorber assemblies complete the suspension. The steering is rack and pinion. The braking system features discs all around.

Front and rear energy-absorbing bumper systems provide protection for the vehicle in car-to-car impacts up to 10 m.p.h. Glass louvers in the rear quarter area aid in rear vision and help to exhaust heat from the engine compartment. Cool air for carburation is ducted from apertures located forward of the rear wheels. Excess air, after cooling the engine compartment is then extracted through electrically-controlled louvers below the rear window. The radiator for engine cooling and the air conditioner are front-mounted.

There is a luggage compartment in the rear. The fuel tank is between structural walls forward of the cowl. Side impact bars and rollover protection are built into the body structure.

An on-board computer system with a compact fully digital display readout located just above the steering column replaces temperature, oil pressure, fuel and voltage gauges, and speedometer. Within the same readout area, a linear light-emitting diode system indicates engine revolutions per minute. Up to 7,000 r.p.m. is indicated with green lights. Above this number the engine is exceeding its maximum recommended r.p.m. and the tachometer lights are red.

The compact readout panel adjusts up and down with the steering column and wheel enabling the driver to view the instruments without obstruction and without looking away from the road.

An additional digital display of convenience and driving information is located at the front of the center console. One display window serves as the readout of several functions. Information selection is controlled through push buttons located at the front of the center console. They permit the driver to check on time, date, radio, and elapsed time for rallying or acceleration runs.

Source - GM
Vehicle Profiles
1973 Chevrolet Aerovette Concept vehicle information


The mid-engine Aerovette began life as a showcase for the GM Rotary Combustion Engine (GMRC) built on a chassis constructed by Zora Arkus-Duntov's team at the Chevrolet Engineering Center. GM Design Vice President Bill Mitchell instructed Henry Haga ....[continue reading]


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